Here we have the history of the locations and successes of all the teams that have competed in or are competing in the CWHL and NWHL (as well as the Minnesota Whitecaps).
The first thing to notice is that the 2017/18 season will have more pro teams than ever before, with the CWHL’s most recent expansion bringing the number up to 11 teams, 12 if you believe the rumours that there could be a second Chinese team. This number is likely to increase in coming years as the NWHL has said that the 2018/19 is when they will review their options of cities to place a team.
Obviously, with now 10 seasons under their belt, the CWHL has a fair chunk of history to go with it. They’ve had four teams become defunct: the Quebec Phenix who only competed in one season and drew crowds of just 50 people, the Ottawa Senators who were formed back in 1998. Before even the Women’s Senators were around, the Vaughan Flames existed who went through a number of name changes, eventually settling on Vaughan when they entered the CWHL in 2007. Finally the Burlington Barracudas, who were the last team in the CWHL to become inactive in 2012.
The Toronto franchise has quite the history, having roots way back in 1993 when they were known as the Mississauga Chiefs which they played as when they played in the inaugural season of the CWHL in 2007. Come the 2010 they would take on the name of the Toronto Aeros for one season before settling on the name they are known as today, the Toronto Furies.
The Thunder have become the first team to officially relocate, moving from Brampton after 10 years of playing in the CWHL, they are headed for Markham for the new season.
— Markham Thunder HC (@ThunderCWHL) July 11, 2017
Joining Markham with the honour of receiving a CWHL team for the coming season is Beijing with the Kunlun Red Stars, and as already mentioned, if you believe the rumours, China could be receiving a second team.
Boston is unique in that it has two pro teams based there, it is shared by the Boston Blades of the CWHL and the Boston Pride of the NWHL. When the Pride were formed in 2015, the success of the Blades ended as the Pride became the competitive team of the city.
With the Pride, this brings us onto the rest of the NWHL, who have had a short and sweet history with regards to this info-graphic with no teams having relocated or folding (although there have been plenty of rink changes). All four teams have played two seasons and will be competing amongst themselves once again for the upcoming year. However, maybe in a year’s time this info-graphic will need updating with a team in Pittsburgh, Washington or somewhere entirely different if the NWHL goes through with their plans to expand.
I’ve included the Minnesota Whitecaps as they were flagship franchise in the Western Women’s Hockey League when it was operating and competed against CWHL teams for the Clarkson Cup on multiple occasions, winning it in the 2009/10 season. They offer an alternative for high flying hockey athletes instead of playing in CWHL or NWHL.
That sums up the pro teams, with the CWHL having 5 years since a team folded they are in a strong position and their teams should be competing for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile the future of the NWHL is still a little more uncertain as they continue to find their feet within the hockey world and work towards their aim of a sustainable business model. Whatever happens, we’ll have to wait and see…